Rough Knob-tailed Gecko
Turtles, lizards, snakes and crocodiles all belong to the reptile family, characterised by being ectothermic (meaning that their body temperature varies with the outside temperature). There are five families of lizards in Australia, namely skinks, dragons, monitors (known locally as goannas), geckos and flap-footed or legless lizards. There are more lizards found across Australia than any other country.
Australia is also known for it’s diverse array of snakes and while there are a number of venomous species, they are generally very shy creatures and avoid encounters with humans. The highlight for many visitors is to spot the largest living reptile and apex predator, the saltwater crocodile found in the northern parts of the country.
Perhaps some of the most intriguing stories of adaptation belong to the frog family. Despite Australia having some of the harshest environmental conditions and the species continual need to stay moist, a number of frogs have evolved through behaviours such as burrowing underground. Australia's frogs vary in size from the world's largest tree frog (the white-lipped tree frog) through to the the slender-bodied javelin tree frog.
Search for tours including Reptiles & Amphibians, using the seasonal viewing opportunities calendar further down the page or by using the map button directly below:
Autumn: Mar-May, Kakadu & Arnhem Land
The renowned Frilled-neck Lizard is more active during the wet season, but can still be seen at this time with it’s spectacular frill that encircles its neck when alarmed. Males are larger than females and can reach up to a metre in length. Mertens’ Water Goannas have their young at this time and are a common sight along the billabongs and streams, where they forage for extended periods underwater, feeding on fishes, frogs and crustaceans. Sand and Yellow-spotted Goannas are found further inland across the Savanna woodlands, searching for reptile and bird eggs, invertebrates, lizards and birds.
The beautiful Dahl’s Aquatic Frog is commonly seen on the floodplains at the end of the wet season where they float during the day and bask on lily pads. They are typically green with a beautiful emerald stripe down the middle of the back and are common prey for the Merten’s Water Goanna. The Northern Dwarf Tree Frog, Little Green Tree Frog and Brown Tree Frog are also common sightings across the region.
Green Tree Snakes, Children Pythons, Banded Tree Snakes and Olive Pythons are more active along the billabongs and floodplains during this time, commonly sighted from the airboats, as are the regions most famous resident, the Saltwater Crocodile.
Winter: Jun-Aug, Kakadu & Arnhem Land
As waters begin to recede, Saltwater Crocodiles can be spotted in greater volumes, with small mammals and birds falling victim to ambush attacks along the waters edge, along with region’s most famous fish, the Barramundi. Freshwater Crocodiles are typically found further up the escarpments with females laying a clutch of 4-20 eggs in the sand in August. Unlike Saltwater Crocodiles the females do not guard the nest, however, they will return and excavate the nest when the eggs have hatched around November.
Green Tree Snakes, Children Pythons, Banded Tree Snakes and Olive Pythons are active along the billabongs and floodplains until the end of June, when they become more lackadaisical due to increased heat and dry conditions. One of the most intriguing smaller lizards seen at this time is the Rough Knob-tailed Gecko, with their beautiful rich purple coloured eyes and spiny rosettas across their body a remarkable sight. The Desert Tree Frog, Rocket Frog, Tornier’s Frog, Roth’s Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog and Little Green Tree Frog are some of the more common of the 26 frog species found across the region.
Spring: Sep-Nov, Kakadu & Arnhem Land
The largest of all living reptiles is the Saltwater Crocodiles. They are most active at this time due to males and females engaging in courtship. Females will lays eggs between November and March in a nest mound made up of mud and vegetation, typically laying from 30 to 70 eggs. The dry season is the best time to see these prehistoric creatures as their numbers concentrate in shrinking pockets of water.
Freshwater Crocodiles feed on many small animals including fish, frogs, lizards, snakes, rats, bats and birds. ’Freshies’ prefer to stay clear of their Saltwater cousins at this time and inhabit areas above the escarpment in Kakadu.
There are numerous lizards active including the alluring Fire-tailed Skink, with its bright-red tail a beautiful site against the ochre coloured rocks. Sand and Yellow-spotted Goannas, can be seen stalking through the woodlands, with some laying their eggs into the cathedral termite mounds to protect their eggs from the high temperatures. The Copland’s Rock Frog inhabits the rock escarpments and is particularly active along the edges of creeks, with breeding commencing in October.
Summer: Dec-Feb, Ningaloo & Exmouth
The Ningaloo Marine Park is one of the world’s most precious nesting areas, home to 6,000 sea turtles, with three species (Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead) known to lay eggs between December and February. From January through March (approximately six weeks after laying), the hatchlings emerge across the sandy beaches in their first battle to survive numerous predators.
Autumn: Mar-May, Ningaloo & Exmouth
The Ningaloo Marine Park is one of the world’s most precious nesting areas, home to 6,000 sea turtles, with three species (Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead) nesting. From January through March (approximately six weeks after laying), the hatchlings emerge across the sandy beaches in their first battle to survive numerous predators.